Saturday 23 March 2019

Five major borrowers face assets takeover by NAMA

Grehans in race to pay €660m as state agency 'loses patience'

Laura Noonan

FIVE of NAMA's 30 biggest borrowers have yet to be offered debt agreements by the agency and could face enforcement action over the coming weeks, the Irish Independent has learned.

The news comes as developer Ray Grehan and his brother Danny battle against the clock to repay some €660m to NAMA by the end of today or face losing control of their assets.

NAMA boss Frank Daly recently warned that the loans agency was losing patience with developers who had "not yet adapted to the new realities" of post property crash Ireland.

Since then the agency has upped the pace on enforcement actions and has now seized control of the assets of six of the country's top 30 developers, including Derek Quinlan, Jim Mansfield and Paddy Kelly.

Enforcement is typically pursued when NAMA fails to hammer out a so-called 'memorandum of understanding' with developers on how their debts can be repaid.

The Irish Independent understands that 18 of the top 30 developers have "signed or are about to sign" memorandum of understanding and are seen as "relatively safe" from enforcement action.

The remaining 12 include the Grehans -- who signed a memorandum but later suffered a breakdown in relations with NAMA -- the six already in receivership and five who have not yet been offered deals.

These five are seen as the most 'at risk' of future enforcement action and could have receivers sent in over the coming weeks if they can't draw up agreements with NAMA.

Meanwhile, the Grehans were last night trying to devise a strategy that will allow them to keep control of their assets despite the threat to send in a receiver if €660m isn't paid by the end of the day.

NAMA appointed receivers to the Grehans' assets last Wednesday but "stood the receivers down" at midnight on Friday after deciding it was legally prudent to accede to the brothers' request for more time.

The state agency could move to re-install the receivers as early as tonight if the demand for repayment is not met.

Legal advice

The Grehans are understood to have spent the weekend taking legal advice and may launch a challenge against NAMA's decision to seize control of the assets.

The two sides may also yet come to an agreement on how to handle the Grehans' debts, which include €110m borrowed towards the record-setting €170m purchase of the Veterinary College in Ballsbridge in Dublin 4 .

The Grehans signed a memorandum of understanding with the state agency before Christmas but relations broke down when it asked for additional personal guarantees from the brothers and tried to appoint a chairman to one of their companies.

A spokesman for NAMA declined to comment. Efforts to reach Mr Grehan at the offices of his Glenkerrin Homes were unsuccessful last night, though some staff were in the building.

Irish Independent

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